MINNEAPOLIS - Football season is here. The Minnesota Vikings made their 2022 preseason debut at the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, and now football fans will get their fix every weekend between now and February.
The result Sunday was not relevant, and several key players never took the field. Kirk Cousins didn’t make the trip after testing positive for COVID-19 late last week. If you spent Sunday on your couch watching the Vikings, you saw an impressive day from Kellen Mond, Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu.
We saw the first-team offensive line play a series, and a few key defensive pieces get snaps. Here are takeaways from Kevin O’Connell’s unofficial debut.
KELLEN MOND IMPRESSES AFTER SLOW START
With Kirk Cousins not making the trip and not expected to play anyway, Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion split the quarterback snaps. Mond appears to have the inside track to the No. 2 quarterback spot after his play against the Raiders. He finished 9-of-14 passing for 119 yards, two touchdowns and a 130.7 rating. Mannion was 8-of-12 for 79 yards, leading one scoring drive that ended in a Greg Joseph field goal. Mannion had Ihmir Smith-Marsette open for what would’ve been a touchdown, but overthrew him.
Mond got better as the game went on. After missing Trishton Jackson and Smith-Marsette open in the end zone while scrambling, he hit Dan Chisena for 22 yards on a 4th-and-5 play. He had at least three completions of 15-plus yards, and hit Albert Wilson for touchdowns of two yards and 20 yards. He’ll need to progress, but Mond took positive steps on Sunday.
TY CHANDLER, KENE NWANGWU HAVE BIG NIGHTS
With Dalvin Cook not playing and Alexander Mattison getting just three carries, it was a time for back-ups Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu to get meaningful snaps. Nwangwu had seven carries for 41 yards, and Chandler made a splash in his debut. He had five carries for 50 yards, and a 56-yard kick return that set up Mond’s first score.
For two players expected to largely play special teams, it was a positive day in the run game for Chandler and Nwangwu.
DEFENSIVE PENALTIES NEED TO BE CLEANED UP
The defense got four sacks on the day, but coaches watching the tape back will see a lot of flags on the field. The Vikings had eight penalties for 71 yards, and at least three of them were for illegal contact, something NFL officials have been instructed to emphasize this season.
Rookie Andrew Booth Jr., who has made a few splashes in training camp, was called for pass interference and a facemask on the same play. That will have to be addressed before Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
VIKINGS SMARTLY REST SEVERAL STARTERS
The Vikings had two goals entering Sunday’s game: Keep key players healthy, and get those that needed snaps on the field. We didn’t see Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr. or Chris Reed on the offensive side. We didn’t see Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson or Harrison Smith on defense. We didn’t need to, we largely know what they’ll bring when the games count.
We’ll find out later this week if more regular starters play Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
VIKINGS PLAY STARTERS IN THE TRENCHES
We did see the first-team offensive line of Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Jesse Davis and Brian O’Neill in the first quarter. That’s been the consistent top offensive line through most of training camp. Ed Ingram impressed in his debut after getting first-team snaps on the offensive line last week.
Harrison Phillips, Armon Watts, Patrick Jones II and Jalen Twyman got meaningful snaps on the defensive line. Phillips and Watts each got a sack.
The Vikings welcome the San Francisco 49ers to TCO Performance Center this week for joint practices Wednesday and Thursday, and we’ll have a better idea what the plan is for Saturday’s second preseason game is by the end of the week.